The Gospel Goal.
The Gospel Goal...for many...is the escaping of the Tribulation and the Escaping of Hell to Gain Heaven.
I grew up hearing that the Gospel is "Good News"...however...the "Good News" was always overshadowed by "Bad News"! My response, as well as many people of my era, to the Gospel was initiated by fear of God and the bad things He would do...not the love of God nor His goodness.
It seemed that the crux of the Gospel was not the Grace of God and the freedom it brings, rather the Gospel was based on the fear of God and the hell it brings!
The fear of hell and damnation scared the living daylights out of people and because of the manipulative tactics, the judgement and condemnation of the preacher and one's thinking that the preacher was the mouth piece of God speaking the truth of God, one accepted fear-mongering tactics as the Gospel.
The religious institutions were right in calling the Gospel "Good News" but, my learning about Jesus as a thinking believer rather than accepting what I was taught by a denominated seminarian...even though they were right in that the Gospel was Good News...that part was right, but the reasons they gave for its rightness was all wrong!
Yes...the Gospel is Good News...AMAZINGLY GOOD NEWS...and...there is NO BAD NEWS associated with it! Jesus came with an announcement from heaven that He came to bring GOOD NEWS...and I would add, NOTHING but GOOD NEWS for ALL of MANKIND!
Like most people, I grew up an “end times” believer where the Good News of the Gospel was mixed up in a mess of destruction and the good news was communicated against a backdrop of some terrible, no-good, absolutely abhorrent, very BAD NEWS! This Bad News was the key to getting people to respond to the alter call. This Gospel is very manipulative and controlling and very UnChristlike in character.
The good news bad news gospel usually starts out with "God loves you so much He sent His only Son to die in your place and took upon Himself your sin. Followed by, if you do not say the "sinner's prayer" and ask Him to forgive you of your sin...
"Just hang on a cotton-picken-minute now, didn't you just say that Jesus took upon Himself my sin on the cross."
"Well, if He took all my sin upon Himself what sin do I have left to ask Him to forgive me of"?
"Ah, ah, well...actually he made provisions for you to be forgiven of your sin."
"So then, He did not take ALL my sin upon Himself...in fact what you are saying is that He did not take ANY of my sin upon Himself"! Man you are confusing me". Anyway continue your spiel.
...your on the the train to the torture chamber of hell and God is going to torture you for ever and ever by setting you on fire, except, you will never die and you will literarily burn forever and ever."
"Sinner friend, things are going to get progressively worse in these last days...and no matter what happens, there’s no stopping this train from on the track to hell...oh yes, on the way you will pass through the great tribulation where you will also suffer like you or anybody else has suffered since the dawn of humanity! Sinner's are completely and utterly doomed, and my job as a Christian is get as many people into the Ark of safety as possible and get you prepared to get out of here".
"Hang on a minute preacher man....now that you have the living crap frightened out of me, what is the good news"?
"I am glad you asked that question...The “Good News” is, a girl named Margaret MacDonald had a dream about how people can escape the tribulation and hell. A man named John Nelson Darby capitalized on this girl's dream in making a doctrine out of it, in that God has provided a way of escape for certain elect people...an escape called the “secret rapture of the church.” By the 20th Century, end times theology caught on and it didn’t take long for the Good News that Christ came to bring to get perverted into a theology of detachment and escapism. Of all the negative things that have occurred in church history the invention of rapture doctrine and the modern end-times movement that was born from such man-made hogwash doctrine and worst still, it ushered in an era where Christians waited for the Good News (escape) to be realized, instead of bring good news for people living in the world in the here and now. The good news was promoted as escaping the tribulation and hell and getting to heaven!"
But, that kind of teaching is false...God is not interested in making people fit to go to heaven and in doing so bring the atmosphere of earth to heaven...He is about making people fit to live in the world and bring the atmosphere of heaven to earth.
The end times version of the Gospel that many of us grew up with is very popular, not because it’s true, but because it’s easy escapism believe-ism. "Prior to the invention of end times fallacy of a secret rapture, believers were changing their world on a massive scale...changing broken social systems, uplifting the poor and oppressed, and addressing all sorts of other problems they referred to as “social ills.”
Jesus in them was working through them to help those around them experience God love and goodness, the presence God in the here-and-now, and the trans-formative nature of God’s reconciliation...all things that were truly Good News in every respect, without the bad news of religion.
But religion with its end times paradigm caused things to radically go down hill after Darby’s teachings caught on because his alternate version of being a child of God is so much easier to believe.
However, what I’ve learned from the life of Christ and viewing the scripture through he lens of Christ is that the Good News isn’t about escaping the tribulation, nor is it about escaping hell, it’s about transforming people who will fill the earth with His glory so people will experience His Love and Grace. The Good News is an invitation to empty oneself of himself, and to be agents of reconciliation who act as a soothing balm on hurting people.
The message of Jesus was never about raptures, escaping, or even going to heaven when we die. Instead, the message of Jesus was always about the fact that the Kingdom of God has come...and through the salvation that Jesus has provided by forgiving all people of their sin and through our repentance to enter in and enjoy the benefits of His Kingdom. Kingdom living is to be a reality in the here and now...not in the great beyond! Instead of leaving earth to go to heaven by a secret rapture escape, Jesus invites us to bring heaven to earth on the way to heaven while we are living on this earth.
This invitation to be the Community of the Redeemed on earth, producing the works of Jesus by Him working through us and filling the earth with His glory so that people will desire to repent, (turn from their selfish way to God's way) is much more difficult than escapism theory and besides the tribulation and hell fear-mongering helps religion to keep people in control and keep the wheels of religion turning.
The transformative Gospel of Grace is the Love of our loving Father in action, and IS the GOOD NEWS!.
If you are a escapism end times believer, my prayer is that you’ll be able to break free from that and experience Grace Living, building God’s Kingdom and experiencing everlasting life in the here-and-now.
The Good News was never about escaping this world...the tribulation or hell, but about transforming this world by the Community of the redeemed living in it.
Gaining heaven is a benefit of the Gospel, not the goal of the Gospel!